WASHINGTON Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder said on Wednesday that they would push the U.S. Congress to fund a budget proposal intended to clear the country's backlog of unanalyzed rape kits.
Rape kits holding DNA evidence that could help catch perpetrators are often left on storage shelves in police stations and labs due to funding shortages, Holder told reporters in a conference call.
President Barack Obama proposed in his 2015 budget, released on Tuesday, that $35 million in grants be given to communities to address their most critical needs for investigating and prosecuting sexual assault, including the testing of unanalyzed rape kits.
A similar grant was previously given to Detroit, Michigan, which reported 10,995 untested kits collected between 1993 and 2006, according to U.S. Department of Justice documents.
It costs between $1,200 to $1,500 to test a rape kit, according to the Detroit Crime Commission, which provides analytical support to the city's government.
Biden said the Detroit initiative has led to the testing of more than 1,600 rape kits and 14 convictions have been made so far.
"We look forward to working with members of Congress from both parties to secure the passage of this budget proposal," Holder said. "This is not a partisan issue."
Many of the proposals in Obama's budget are unlikely to become law given the partisan divide in the U.S. Congress. Republicans in the House of Representatives have dismissed Obama's budget as an election-year campaign pitch.
(Reporting by Julia Edwards, editing by G Crosse)